The Cosmeticators Carry On a Long Tradition of Girl Garage Rockers

Many, many years ago — before the age of digital music mojo and studio wizardry, and right around the time "rock 'n' roll" was deemed a dirty term by apple-pie America and you couldn't see Elvis' hips gyrating on TV — what we now call "garage rock" was literally just that: people rockin' out raw and live in a garage. Nothing fancy but damn sure spirited.

There's something infectious about a band that looks like they're actually having fun playing, rather than worrying about not having perfect pitch or tripping over a mountain of effects pedals. Take local garage rock trio The Cosmeticators — these three women smile while they're playing, laugh off mishaps, and keep rocking out simple, punky anthems in the vein of classic girl garage bands like Thee Headcoatees, The Runaways, and The Pleasure Seekers (they cover the latter's song, "What a Way to Die," at shows).

The band — Chela (bass, vocals), Dee Moreno (guitar, vocals), and Amy Young (drums) — formed in January 2008. They'd known each other for years, and all three women are active in the Valley arts scene. Young works for Scottsdale Cultural Council and helps run two galleries in downtown Phoenix, Perihelion Arts and Pravus Gallery. Moreno works an art school. Chela's an artist and also brings the best-known local music pedigree to the trio: She used to play with furious female rockers Hell on Heels. And while the simplicity and brevity of The Cosmeticators' songs might lead one to think they're in a sloppy punk rock hurry, that's not the case. These three ladies have taken their time building a fan base and getting a debut album ready for release (more on that later). Even their band name is a product of intense brainstorming.

The Cosmeticators pose with "Roboman."
Chuck Harding
The Cosmeticators pose with "Roboman."

Location Info


Trunk Space

1506 Grand Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Category: Art Galleries

Region: Central Phoenix


The Cosmeticators are scheduled to perform Thursday, June 30, at The Trunk Space.

Chela and Moreno met at punk bar TT Roadhouse in Scottsdale and made a list of cool words that could be used to form a band name. "Cosmetics" and "medication" were both on the list. "The concept of self-medication, whether it's through drugs or whatever people use, [like] video games — there are various ways of self-medication. It's been a big buzz word in the last decade," Moreno says. "I was actually influenced a little bit by that local band The Complainiacs. I like the way they put 'complain' and 'maniac' together. And we were writing down things that related to women, mostly, like cosmetics. In a way, cosmetics are a way of [hiding]. You hide behind [them]. So it was synonymous to put the two words together."

After settling on a band name, The Cosmeticators built a reputation around the Valley playing shows with established locals like Labor Party, Green Lady Killers, and The Love Me Nots, as well opening for national acts like The Dollyrots, White Flag, Clem Burke of Blondie, and '60s band Love. Their songs are simple and short but catchy, ranging from the fuzzy guitar-filled "Roboman" and head-boppers like "Double Man" to the "Cosmeticators Theme Song," a call-and-response tune that finds the band chanting about "taking control" and "rocking down." The lyrics to almost any Cosmeticators song can be humorously dubious. But like the band name, there's more to them than meets the ear.

For example, in "Apple," Chela sings, "You're so cold and oh so sweet / You're just the kinda treat that I'd like to eat / C'mon apple, give it to me / C'mon now, give me a squeeze."

A more dirty-minded person (like, say, us) might think that's a sexual innuendo, but it's an actually an ode to a beverage. "It's about an apple slush from Sonic," Chela says. "Sonic has this 100 percent apple juice slushie that's just like apple juice that's slushified. And I was like, 'This is a song right here. These are so great. I wanna get picked up by Sonic as their, like, house band.'"

Chela says another Cosmeticators song, "Jerry," is also often misinterpreted. "The chorus: 'He's big, he's black / It's a Jerry love attack' gets a lot of . . . People think it means something else, too," Chela says with a laugh. Jerry was her late dog. "He was a black lab. I have a new chocolate lab named George. I have a few songs about George already."

"If they're not covers, all our songs really do come from our own real, personal life experiences," Young says.

Moreno concurs. "We have a song about Botox, which is really tongue-in-cheek. No pun intended there. That was influenced by one of our friends that does cosmetics," she says. "We have songs about psycho stalker ex-boyfriends. I have a song about Sheriff Joe, and [one about] a DUI. It was influenced by a girl I knew who had a DUI, so it was about the whole experience she had."

"We have some love songs, but most of them are hate songs," Chela adds. And the love songs are about things like dogs and apple slushies.

The Cosmeticators recorded four songs for an EP about three years ago. All the tracks were recorded live in the garage of their friend Jon Cheney's East Valley home, dubbed "Heathenworld Studios." Hard copies of that EP are long gone (you can still hear the tracks on the band's MySpace page,, but the band's already recorded an untitled, full-length debut album. They say they're finishing the mixing of it and hope to have a CD release party in the fall. The upcoming album was recorded at Dead Studios by Chuck Harding, who also produced the Cosmeticators' video for "Roboman."

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Concerned Music Fan
Concerned Music Fan

Honestly...that's a pretty bad name. If *that* took intense brainstorming, I'd be afraid to even take the time to listen to the songs..


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d to the g
d to the g

I may be biased but the cosmeticators are one of the fun bands to see play live... they love what they are doing, they practice incessantly and they bring it to the table (the bar stool tables near the stage that is.) As Miss Amy's SO, I don't have a ball and chain to carry around, I have a drum kit to lug about. I will say since we moved to PHx from NYC... it's a lot easier getting them from home to the gig here than it was in the big Apple.

J to the M bo
J to the M bo

Concerned music fan . . . ever notice how it sort of faintly rhymes with Gas Bag Trashcan? In your efforts to derail and deride the creativity behind the origins of a band's name you managed to come across a bit like Tipper Gore or an old English teacher I had in grade school. I notice you are a fan and not a band . . . then go back to receiving instead of transmitting.


Come see us play on Thursday 6/30 at The Trunk Space at 830 p.m.!!!

Concerned Music Fan
Concerned Music Fan

It's a lame band name that basically sounds like 10,000 others before it. It's not creative by any stretch of the imagination..

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